Thursday 21 February 2019

How Irish families are facing a cost-hike triple whammy this September

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Families are facing a triple whammy of charges as soon as the summer ends.

Hikes in electricity charges, higher waste costs and back-to-school expenses are set to hit parents hard in the pocket.

Electricity is set to become more expensive due to a hike in the State levy imposed on all bills. Higher waste charges are also on the way for those who currently do not separate their waste.

Parents will also be forced to spend almost €1,000 to equip a child for primary school and €1,500 to send one to secondary school, according to the most recent Irish League of Credit Unions survey.

Advocacy group St Vincent de Paul (SVP) warned that poorer families would not be able to cope.

SVP said it was particularly concerned at the impact the increases would have on the families and individuals it visits who cannot afford to pay additional charges on top of other costs they face.

Jennifer Thompson, of the society, said: "Autumn is a particularly difficult time for families, who have just faced back-to-school costs and are worrying about upcoming Christmas expenses and getting through the winter months, when energy bills are highest."

SVP said it was concerned about the changes in electricity and waste charges, which it said were coming in September and October. The society said it accepted the pricing structure for waste removal should encourage waste reduction and recycling, but called for waste charges to be properly regulated and poverty-proofed.

It said it wanted affordability measures put in place for low-income households in order to prevent further hardship.

The energy regulator has proposed increasing the public service obligation (PSO) that is added to all electricity bills by 40pc for consumers.

This would add €32 to the annual cost of electricity, taking the annual cost of the levy to €112.

The levy is mainly used to cover the cost of subsidy schemes to support the generation of electricity from renewable sources, such as wind farms. Some of the levy goes to ensure there are power stations on stand-by when demand for electricity goes up, and it is partly used to subsidise peat-generated power.

The regulator has proposed that the levy go from €80 a year for domestic customers to €112, when valued added tax is included.

Families with young children, or family members with medical needs, are also set to be hit hard from changes to the waste collection regime.

Up to 700,000 householders will end up paying more when a pay-by-weight system is rolled out to every home.

Both the Consumers' Association and the SVP said the changes to electricity bills and waste charges would hit families hard.

Michael Kilcoyne, of the Consumers' Association, said the rises in waste and electricity charges were coming just as parents had to shell out on back-to-school costs.

"The cost of services is going up all the time, leaving families with less and less disposable income," he said.

A recent survey found more than a quarter of Irish adults are struggling financially.

The Family Finances Report from Aviva said the equivalent of one million adults found it difficult to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, April to June was the weakest consumer spending period for almost three years, according to the Visa Consumer Spending Index.

Irish Independent

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